The forestry industry is one of the strategic economic sectors in South Africa with a significant contribution towards economic growth and job creation.
In terms of land use, the area under forestry is about
1,257 million ha or about 1% of the total South African land area of 122,3 million ha. The forestry sector (forestry and forest
products) contributes about 1,2% to gross domestic product (GDP). In terms of regional GDP,
forestry in KwaZulu-Natal contributes 4,5%; in Mpumalanga
4,7%; 0,9% in the Eatsern Cape and about 0,5% in Limpopo. The value of exported forest products increased from R9,5 billion in
2001 to R13,4 billion in 2010.
The forestry sector employed
around 201 025 people in 2009.
That year, the total investment in the forestry industry amounted to R24,8 billion. This comprised 58,5% in trees; 19,4% in land; 13% in roads; 6,2% in fixed assets; and 2,8%
in moveable assets. Regarding investment in the forest product sector by type of processing plant for 2009, the total book value of investments amounted to R15,7 billion. This investment comprised 82,7% in pulp and board plants; 11,8% in sawmills and veneer plants; 1% in pole plants; 0,3% in mining timber; and 4,2% in other plants. The industry was a net exporter of almost R3,9 billion worth of goods in 2010, of which more than 99% took the form of converted value-added products. The forest-product industry ranks among the top exporting industries in the country, having contributed 2,27% to total exports and 1,61% to total imports in 2010. Capital investment in the industry amounted to an estimated R45 billion in 2010.
Did you know?
South Africa has 183 primary wood-processing plants, 180 of which are owned by the private sector and three of which are owned by local and state authorities. Of these, 102 are sawmills; 13 are mining-timber sawmills; 44 are pole-treating plants; 19 are pulp, paper and board mills; one is a match factory; and four are charcoal plants.
The total roundwood intake into these processing plants in 2008 was 19,6 million m3, valued at R6 billion. The value of sales of timber products produced by these primary processing plants totalled R21,4 billion. Some R15,8 billion was invested in primary roundwood-processing plants (at book value). At market value, this increased to an estimated R40 billion.
There are about 530 000 ha of indigenous or natural forests
in the country, which occur mainly along the southern and
eastern escarpment, the coastal belt and in sheltered kloofs
There has been an increase in the use of natural forests as sources of medicine, building material, fuel wood and food. It is estimated that around 80% of South Africa's population
still uses medicinal plants, most of which are sourced from
By mid-2009, the private sector owned 1 058 908 ha (or
83%) of the total plantation area of 1 274 869 ha, and virtually
all the processing plants in the country.
The remaining 17%
(215 840 ha) was under public ownership, although this
figure includes Komatiland Forests, the remaining South
African Forestry Company Limited package. The extent of
public ownership has decreased significantly because of
In 2009, capital investment in these plantations stood at
R24,8 billion, 59% of which was attributable to investment in
trees. A further 19% was tied up in land, 13% in roads, 6% in
fixed assets and 3% in machinery and equipment.
Did you know?
Champion trees, protected under the National Forests Act, 1998 [PDF] are proclaimed every year in the Government Gazette. These are individual trees and groups of trees (shortlisted by a panel of experts) considered to be of national conservation importance. Among the listed trees are:
- the Tsitsikamma Big Tree along the Garden Route
- the Post Office Milkwood Tree of Mossel Bay
- the Sagole Baobab in Limpopo (one of the largest trees in South
By May 2011, 56 trees and groups of trees had been declared protected as champion trees.
The oldest planted tree is a saffron pear, brought from the Netherlands and planted in the Company's Garden in Cape Town more than three centuries ago.
Historic trees include a poplar tree, which served as a landmark for refugees during the apartheid regime who found a safe haven in
the Johannesburg house of Ruth Fischer (daughter of Bram Fischer, who was a founder member of the South African Communist Party).
The Champion Tree Project of South Africa is the only one of its kind in Africa.